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Matters of Race


4 parts, 1 hour each
Source: Out of print

This series examines contemporary issues of race in the United States.

  1. The Divide
    In 1993, Silver City, North Carolina was a black and white town of segregated communities with a shared geography and an unsettled history. This quiet, rural southern town was a "laboratory" for the national transformation that was fundamentally altering America's sense of itself. The program addresses the following questions: how does rapid change in racial demographics affect small-town America? What happens when white people and white culture no longer dominate?

  2. Race Is/Race Ain't
    Episode two looks at race in America and the meaning of the black/white paradigm in multiracial America today. This episode weaves the personal memoirs of writers John Edgar Wideman and Jane Lazarre with the story of the King-Drew County Medical Center in South Central Los Angeles. It examines the polarities of race and asks the provocative question, is race real? Where does truth end and collective fantasy begin? By chronicling the daily activities of the diverse hospital staff, the program explores how race can become a divisive factor that can incite feelings of suspicion and accusations of discrimination, even in an environment where diversity is recognized as a necessary and desired reality.

  3. We're Still Here
    The third program is a contemporary look at two communities often overlooked in the race dialogue: American Indians and Native Hawaiians. Through the stories of Lakota families on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, the film considers the historical construction of Indian "otherness." Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean, lawsuits challenged the rights of Native Hawaiians to run schools and housing programs that provided only for their beleaguered community. Having been accused of reverse-racism, how do they see themselves in relation to the rest of the nation?

  4. Tomorrow's America
    The final episode explores youth culture and the values of the next generation by putting the camera into the hands of three young producers. Through their short documentaries, these producers explore the way race is imagined and understood by the next generation, a generation influenced by cultural cross-pollination and the information superhighway.

Related lesson:
Race, Democracy, and Citizenship: The American Ideal

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